All the King’s Subjects

On this feast of Christ the King we have one of those rare Gospel readings that are usually reserved for Holy Week.  In this case, it’s a short clip from St. John’s Passion, read at the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday.  We find our Lord in front of Pontius Pilate, who is questioning him.  “Art thou the King of the Jews?” he asks.  And we, who today celebrate the feast of Christ the King, who acknowledge him as the King of kings and Lord of lords, nod our head as we hear this question.  Yes, we say, of course this is the Christ, King of the Jews.  Our Lord could also have nodded his assent and agreed to this title.  And yet he does not.  He is not impressed by titles.  Instead, he describes his mission to the world, which is to bear witness unto the truth.  “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world,”—not to sit on a throne wielding power and authority over the Jewish people like his forefather King David, but as the humble son of a carpenter, walking among his people, teaching them, and bringing them to the truth.

Power and authority in themselves are not bad things.  In fact, they derive from God, who delegates his own power and authority to our earthly kings who rule over us.  But in return for this power, God demands of these rulers that they bear witness unto the truth.  If they don’t, if they wield power based on lies and hypocrisy, then they are nothing more than tyrants.  Bearing witness to the truth is a far more important role for our earthly kings than any physical or political power and might.  Any king or pope or president who bullies his people into submission, who forces them to accept the lies he tells them, is nothing more than a wicked despot.  Jorge Bergoglio and Joseph Biden are perfect examples.  Think of Bergoglio’s forced abolition of the true Mass, think of Biden’s mandatory vaccinations.  They may have usurped the power of Church and State, they may even wield that power with impunity, wallowing in the adulation that their sycophants dribble upon them.  But these are not true rulers we look up to for guidance and protection.  They are more like vile upstarts who like to bully their subordinates simply because they can. 

So when Pilate asks our Lord if he is the King of the Jews, our Lord does not acknowledge this title of king, a name given to good kings and bad kings alike.  While a king he most certainly is, his royalty does not derive from the power of the title.  On the contrary, the title of King belongs to Christ because he bears witness to the Truth, because he is in fact the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  And this is what his answer was supposed to convey to Pilate and all those listening.

Because he is the Truth, he is truly the King of kings.  A king who has subjects.  But when our Lord commands us his subjects, we obey him not just because he is a king.  We obey him because he is the Truth and can never command us to do something wrong.  The two tablets containing the Ten Commandments are our Book of the Law, beautifully encapsulated in those two Great Commandments, to love God (Commandments 1-3), and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Commandments 4-10).  The Ten Commandments are our law of Love, a love which binds us in glorious subjection to our King.  It is this law of love that commands us to love him in return for the love he shows us, and for the truths he has revealed to us his children through the Church he founded.

Because we now know these truths, we understand that we must love God.  Not because it is the law, but because it is what we want.  We want to love God.  How can we not want to love God when we know what he is, who he is, and what he has done for us.  How do we show our love for God?  By serving him.  First we know, then we love, then we serve, servants of the King.  It is our place to serve him.  He is Christ the King and we are his loyal and obedient subjects, striving at all times to please him, and it’s important we know that this is our role in life. 

Now that we know our place with regard to Christ the King, we should find that peace and comfort in knowing we truly are in our rightful place of subjection at his feet.  We should be enjoying the peace of knowing that if we have known, loved and served God in this world, we are well placed to be happy with him forever in the next.  This hope for the salvation of our souls will surely be realized so long as we don’t offend our king by being disloyal, so long as we kneel before his feet and beg his mercy if we ever have the misfortune to displease him. 

One last point, which I hope will dispel any remaining doubt that prevents you from enjoying that peace of mind.  We always seem to keep that element of uncertainty, wondering about that mystery that our Judge will be infinitely mercy but also, at the same time, infinitely just.  After all, we know exactly what we truly deserve by our manifold sins.  This is where the fear of God comes in.  It’s quite normal to fear a king, any king who has the power of life and death over us.  He can, and just might, for any whim, deliver swift and lasting justice at any given moment.  He can also bestow mercy, so we do what we can to remain in the king’s good graces.  It is no different with Christ the King, he who will come again in glory to judge both the quick and the dead.  We fear the wrath of God, and rightly so, as it keeps us on the straight and narrow, at least most of the time.  The difference is, Christ the King does not have whims.  He doesn’t have mood swings, and we don’t have to be walking on eggshells in his presence.  We know what he wants from us—it never changes—and we know that he has died for our sins and promised us our eternal reward if we repent of our sins.  So today we pray for his mercy, that the infinite justice of this King will be tempered by his infinite loving kindness.  We pray to the Mother of this King, the Queen of heaven, asking her to pray in turn for us, now and at the hour of our death.  And we consecrate ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Christ the King, pierced by a lance so that saving grace may flow from his side, the Blood of the Saviour, washing our sinful souls of their dark deeds, and opening the gates of heaven for us poor sinners.  May that Blood now descend upon us, a laver of redemption and of life.  “May the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the Divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honour forever.  Amen.” 

Fr. Bernard G. Hall
Fr. Bernard G. Hall

Dean of Chapter, St. Peter ad Vincula

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